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Buying property in Koh Samui

The local property market is buoyant for obvious reasons, Owning a home on a tropical island is the stuff dreams are made of, and there are already many people who have fulfilled those dreams and now call Koh Samui home. Firstly if you’re serious about owning a home on Koh Samui, you’ll need to decide whether you want to buy an already finished property or would prefer to buy land and design a home for your needs.

Land is normally purchased in measurements of Rai (1600 square metres). Smaller plots are commonly available and can be expressed in measurements of a Ngan (400 square metres) or in Wah (4 square metres). You will find that land prices per Rai will differ greatly depending on the area, view and local facilities.

If you are buying land with a view to build, important things you should consider are electricity, water supply and road access to the property. The title of the land can also be crucially important. The best title tends to be the ‘Chanote’ title, which is a true land title deed, as the land has been officially surveyed with GPS by the provincial land office. The boundaries of this land cannot be disputed, either now or in the future. Be sure to ask which title the land comes with, so you can fully understand the implications.

Properties on the island vary from small bungalows or apartments all the way up to expansive villas offering panoramic views of the surrounding islands. Many popular properties are now constructed as part of a communal development. These properties normally consist of a collection of villas or apartments built in a resort type setting. Advantages of these developments often include communal facilities such as swimming pool, private parking and gardens. Security is usually excellent as many of the developments are enclosed within walls and hire security guards.

One disadvantage of this property, depending on your viewpoint, can be that you might forget you’re living in Thailand altogether, if all of your neighbours are wealthy foreigners. This is why ‘stand alone’ properties are still the most popular amongst foreign buyers, who want to mingle with the locals and integrate themselves into the community, rather than living on the edges of it.

Regardless of the property type, you’ll have two choices with regards to the extent of your ownership, leasehold or freehold. Non-Thai nationals can purchase land or a house on a thirty-year lease system. The contract can be drawn up to include terms for extension of the lease. The lease can be sold on without difficulty to another foreign purchaser or Thai national, should you wish to sell your property in the future. The other option if you decide to live full time in Thailand is to set up a Thai company, which will allow the property to be bought outright.

While foreigners can only own 49 per cent of the company, they are able to exercise sole control over the company and therefore the property too, making the investment safe. Setting up a company creates other important legal aspects that should be fully understood before embarking on it. As with all large outlays it would be prudent to seek professional advice before committing. There are a growing amount of estate agents and independent advisors on the island who would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Samui-Pha-ngan Property Magazine is a local publication that provides further details and lists all the companies and agencies on the island.

Living on Koh Samui

There is a fast growing ex-pat community flourishing on Koh Samui, with many people from Europe and beyond choosing the tropical life and now living on Samui permanently. Thailand is one of the most welcoming countries in the world and Koh Samui has developed and adapted over recent years to offer all the comforts of home in a tropical island location.

As an ex-pat, living on Samui is easy; the island now features some excellent locations for shopping, including large western supermarket chains, and sometimes you may even imagine you are hardly living within a Thai environment. What’s more, Koh Samui continues to develop. New shopping malls and entertainment centres are already being built, which will include the island’s first cinema. Over the last few years a number of Western treats that ex-pat residents may have once missed have become readily available.

When living on Samui, there is also a wealth of choice for wining and dining. Thai food of course abounds, but there is also a huge range of international cuisines, so when you can’t face another green curry you can get a burger or steak instead. There are also many Western style pubs and clubs, which serve local drinks as well as your favourite international beverages. Many also televise sporting events from Europe and elsewhere. There are not many experiences more satisfying than enjoying a cold beer in the sun whilst watching your favourite football team play in the cold wind and rain back home.

Of course Thailand wouldn’t be the same without the people, and it is often because of their friendly nature that foreign visitors keep coming back and end up living here on Samui. Most local people involved in the tourism trade speak a good level of English, so speaking Thai is not necessary, though life becomes much easier if you do make the effort. Don’t expect to be living among a true Thai society though, as 80 percent of all people on the island are visitors or ex-pats. Only if you busy yourself among the communities of the south, away from the popular spots will you truly feel like you are in Thailand.

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